Having a conversation with a group of friends about what it’s like for us all in the current lockdown situation, we thought it would be interesting to see what we could learn from each other about strategies for coping whilst we’re all stuck at home.  We’re all members of Junior Chamber International (JCI) and have taken part in plenty of training about personality styles, so we thought it might be interesting to see the different ways “introverts” and “extroverts” might be reacting.

Sofie Sandell is a digital strategy expert.  She lives in Sweden with her partner and their seven month old daughter.

Do you identify more as an introvert or extrovert and why?
I’m an extrovert who has no problems spending time with myself for a few hours. 

How are you finding the current lockdown situation in general?
I live on the west coast of Sweden and the lockdown is not as extreme as in other parts of the world. We’ve changed our behaviour and who we meet up with. Most of my planned social engagements are not going ahead and we keep social distancing if we are in the supermarket or so. We live in the countryside and are lucky to be able to be outdoors for walks and have a coffee in the sun. My partner Magnus works from home so we have a Swedish fika together almost every day, which is nice. A fika is Swedish thing, socialising over coffee and cake. 

In March I stopped going to my cross training classes for a few weeks, and started going again when the training moved outside. Now we are a small group training together under the blue sky two meters apart and everyone wears gloves. That feels safe.

What is the most challenging thing for you?
Before I had something to go to or do almost every day. Now all social appointments are gone, and when I had a break in my exercising classes I got a bit depressed. I also struggle to focus on what’s next after this, I think I suffer from an existential crisis – what Corona is about, what happens to people, society, our mindsets and our plans. All aspects of our life is changing so much and we struggle in so many different ways ❤

Any advice for others in coping?
I would advise everyone to bake bread. It’s great for you to use your hands when you knead the bread, don’t use a machine. You create something and it’s fun, and you mind is focusing on something else.

Me (Sarah Beckwith), currently developing a portfolio career, living alone in London.

Do you identify more as an introvert or extrovert and why?
Introvert.  Some of the introvert characteristics I identify with are that I recharge by being alone, I generally tend to think before I speak and I’m more comfortable in smaller groups.  

How are you finding the current lockdown situation?
I’m keeping busy, so generally fine.  I’ve got plenty on my to do list and am organised, focussed and productive.  Most of my interests have swapped to online forums for now, so I’m in no way bored.  In fact, I still have a pile of books to read, TEDTalks to watch, things to learn that I haven’t had time to get to yet.  I miss socialising in person with friends, but being productive is the best way for me to counter this.

What is the most challenging thing for you?
Overthinking!  It’s much harder to judge the atmosphere and reactions in a digital meeting and when you don’t have a team around you to bounce off and just yourself for company to talk to (in your head), I tend to worry more about “how did I come across?”, “did I say the wrong thing?”, “maybe I should have done this differently…”.

Any advice for others in how to cope with this situation?
“Do not disturb” mode on my phone is my new favourite thing.  I am very grateful for all my Whatsapp groups and chats for providing connection and entertainment at this time, but when I need to focus, this mode mutes all notifications (but calls still come through).  I’d recommend concentrating on getting a task done for a period (say 30 mins to an hour) and then reward yourself by having a break and catching up with the chat. 

All this learning how to use new ways of working and connecting can be exhausting.  My diary is pretty full of activities and I think it’s also good to remind yourself it’s OK to say no to things if you need to and have a night to yourself, just like you’d manage your diary under normal circumstances.

Lesley Young is a Directorate Manager in the NHS.  She lives in London.

Do you identify more as an introvert or extrovert and why?
I’ve always identified myself as an extrovert (and I believe my nearest and dearest and anyone who knows me would agree!).  However, the last few weeks have been a real learning curve for me…and I’ve discovered I may actually be more of an introvert than I ever thought!!  

How are you finding the current lockdown situation in general?
I work for the NHS and thrive on the ‘front-line’ adrenaline but having come down with CO-VID symptoms at the outset of the outbreak, I found myself in ‘self-islotaion’. For 2 weeks I worked more hours than normal (usually 12-14hrs a day) and despite having a fever and cough and the mother of all headaches I still felt ok to ‘carry on’. My focus was on my colleagues and teams at work that I could still provide guidance and leadership for … and most importantly an avenue for them to have a vent or good laugh.  Whilst our conference calls usually finished at around 6/7pm I rang round all the senior midwives after (I work in Maternity) just to check that they were ok and know that they were not forgotten for the amazing work they, and their teams, are doing. That also helped keep my spirits up!! I’m now back ‘on-site’ at the hospital and whilst I cannot deny I’m nervous about it, I’m equally proud to be part of the front-line response in this historic time.

The upside in any adversity is how people react …. I’ve always had a ‘WhatsApp’ for Young Family gossip (which is essentially my brothers and my awesome sisters-in-law).  These last few weeks has seen traffic ramp up significantly from CO-VID memes, pressures of Dad’s being main carers (rather than Mum or childminders). Wider than that we also have a “Young’s Cousin Group’ which goes beyond in terms of memes and just tonight the addition of mental puzzles and teasers and giving dogs abuse to everyone…just like we do in real life when we see each other!

Ironically, I have lived alone for a few years now and often felt very lonely but never admitted it. It’s now that our wee street and neighbours are really pulling together, we text, call and do ‘door step’ deliveries as often as we can… and I actually feel less alone than I have for a long time.

What is the most challenging thing for you?
I’m from Northern Ireland and all my family are there…and I miss them dearly, especially my 11 nieces and nephews  and my 92 yr old grandmother…I spoke to my mother this week who said Grannie wasn’t allowed any visitors so I suggested to ask the care home staff to take a video… I received it today and made me cry, happy and sad tears…. Happy that she was still dressed immaculately, jewellery and all, and sad that it hit me I might never see her again alive..but at least I have this funny wee video of her as I remember her best.  

I thought going out to restaurants, pubs, etc would be hard for me but it really hasn’t been…I’m savouring the ‘true’ love I’m receiving from my dear friends (S,S&S!!) and doing all the things I don’t ordinarily do like piano, cross-stitch, and the things I love like reading and movies.

Any advice for others in how to cope with this situation?
Never underestimate one’s ability to flourish out of your comfort zone xox

Solveig Malvik is Director of Branding & Outbound Marketing at Asetek, a computer hardware company in Aalborg.  She lives in northern Denmark with her husband, their two daughters, cat, dog and chickens.

Do you identify more as an introvert or extrovert and why?
As I understand the terms, extroverts recover energy being with people, and introverts recover energy being by themselves, so in those terms I’m clearly a catrovert. I recover energy being with my cat. No, jokes aside, I read an article once about ambiverts, being people somewhere in the middle and I think that fits very well on me. I love being with people I love, and I love being by myself. I get energy from learning and exploring, and I can do that from a book or cooking something new or from talking to and being with people. I think any category trying to tell us we’re either this or that is too much a simplistic world view. 

How are you finding the current lockdown situation in general?
The situation in Denmark, for those who don’t know, is pretty much like in the UK. Schools and everything is closed down, we’re not supposed to congregate more than (is it 10?) people in one place, people are encouraged to work from home (though my husband goes to the office) etc. We were a few days earlier with the lockdown than the UK so in general contagion levels are way lower and on their way down. 

To be honest it’s not imposed a lot of changes to my life. I pretty much decide my own hours and work from home at least once a week, and because half my team is in Silicon Valley, 9 hours time difference from Aalborg, we’re already working virtually 50 weeks of the year chatting on Microsoft Teams about things work and life related 24/.. What I miss most is being able to go to a shop of my choosing and pick the chocolate or chips or whatever I feel like, not having to ask my husband to get it for me.

What I love is that we’re not supposed to be anywhere else. We’re just here and now. There’s no swimming lessons or community meetings or lectures or whatnot. And of course the kids. 2 kids at home ALL DAY. But they don’t have any school schedule I’m supposed to follow up on or anything, so it’s a light lift compared to many of my friends. If they get too bothersome I just put them in front of Peppa Pig. 

What is the most challenging thing for you?
Kids. When it comes to kids I’m definitely an introvert. I love them and all, but please let me pee alone. They are 4 and 5, which in Denmark means they go to kindergarten, which basically means play all day, no classes or anything like that. They either gang up on me or argue 24/7 and have just figured out that if they simply just don’t do what I tell them to, the consequences I can impose beyond threatening Santa Clause not coming with gifts in 9 months are mostly negligible. 

Any advice for others in how to cope with this situation?
Be honest with yourself about what your needs are. Sometimes this takes time. Take that time and be ok with not knowing straight away. Find something that gives you joy. I try to cook or bake something new every day.

One thought to “Coping with confinement – introvert vs extrovert perspectives”

  • Mike McCarty

    I have joked about being an extroverted introvert. I desperately need my alone time but at JCI events I would play the role of an extrovert at help people make connections. In a way it was so I could move back into the shadows. Every state in the US has had a different level of “lockdown”. I fall into an “essential worker” category so am still going out to see customers. Last week was my first full week without appointments and it was rough for me. This week is better. I hope we meet again somewhere around the world.


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